Saturday, 13 April 2013

Spiders and Dragons and Toads... Oh My!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While most of the other spiders within his network were a dark brown in their colouring, Seymour had a lovely velvety gray tone that made him stand out from the rest. As Seymour made his trips to the surface to gather air bubbles in the tiny hairs along his body the sun would cast a rays of light upon him creating the illusion that he was a sparkling piece of polished silver. With his superior swimming ability and glittering body Seymour looked like quick-silver as he sliced through the water.

Unlike the females in his family Seymour had to make less frequent trips to the surface to gather air for his underwater shelter. He usually only made a daily trip to replenish his diving bell air supply. Yet, this did not mean that he was without stories from the surface. In his younger days, Seymour was far bolder and would cross the watery threshold to molt rather than creating a separate bell for the purpose. He was now an older fellow approaching his 22nd month. And, as time went on, his trips above the water decreased and his network of underwater air bells became more complex. Like the other diving bell spiders, each air bell within the network of Seymour’s shelter had a specific function. One bell was for eating, one bell was for sleeping, one bell was for mating and raising young and another bell was for molting.

lowered in a glass diving bell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)His trips to the top were a great opportunity to learn about the creatures that lived in the habitat. Creatures like the flyers that flashed in the night or the bouncing and shuffling beasts with the swift sticky tongue! He often reminisced about his life these days, remembering such stories like the one of a giant creature with four legs that also used a diving bell. He had seen this creature on land one day while molting. It lumbered along on two legs with the other two dangling by its sides. Most of the stories of this creature involved its visits to the water. Over the countless seasons the stories left behind by ancestors were complemented by each generation, leaving the contemporaries with a storehouse of knowledge about the world they lived in. The giant diving bell creature  that sometime visited the habitat was one of these many stories. This particular creature had seemed to mutate from having a large gleaming diving bell to a long tube that emanated from its head, to what Seymour had observed was a cylindrical tube on its top half and a smaller head that leaked bubbles with feet like the beast with the sticky tongue… Although Seymour had many stories about the world he did not recognise that this Goliath that visited the habitat was indeed known above the water as a human.

As he sat on this stagnant summer’s day within the safety of his retreat Seymour thought about William and the world above the water. This was his second summer in the habitat after the overwinter and he had said his final goodbyes to William the night before. Seymour had been an active hunter, but in the recent months he had slowed his pace and was beginning to feel his age. In his prime, he was a fabulous swimmer darting out and catching prey with swift strokes in his watery abode. Seymour was a confident huntsman who he had developed a taste for crustaceans and tadpoles, leaving the nymphs, mites and mayflies to the less aggressive hunters in the habitat. His taste for crustaceans and tadpoles was how Seymour came to befriend William. William was an inquisitive youthful burst of energy that reminded Seymour of his younger days. Full of questions, requests and eager to begin an adventure was William’s approach to learning about the world around him. His eagerness to act, investigate and explore was a wonderful quality in William but it was also one that had put him in unnecessary danger on more than one occasion. This was how he came to wander into Seymour’s sanctuary. As an older chap, Seymour had welcomed this little nymph with the endless supply of queries. William had been a welcome distraction from the realisation that Seymour was nearing the end of his cycle and gave him the occasion to hark back to his own youth as a hatchling adventures living in a snail shell before he learned to make his own proper shelter.

As Seymour sat contemplating his visits with William he noticed that his shelter was starting shrink. It was time that he journey to the surface to gather air to refill his homespun sub-aqua web to avoid it from collapsing. It was a relatively safe time to journey to the surface, between sunrise and daylight, the hopping shufflers with the sticky tongues had fled after a long night of feasting and the giant feathered flyers were just beginning to stretch their wings. Without further delay Seymour made the familiar voyage to the surface…

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